The Guardian has announced a competition for short-short stories. The prize (as yet undisclosed) will go to the best entry of 400 words or less, entitled â€œTo The Pointâ€. The contest was inspired by the series of short-shorts by Dave Eggers that have been running in the magazine.
Here Eggers talks about the influence Lydia Davis has had in the enterprise:
One of my favourite writers is Lydia Davis and, in her books, she often writes stories as short as one paragraph, frequently as brief as one sentence. One of my favourites is her last book’s titular story. The title is â€œSamuel Johnson Is Indignantâ€ and the entire story is this: “That Scotland has so few trees.”
I’ve asked her about why she feels this is allowed or appropriate, and she’s pointed out that often, when she begins writing, she’s seeking to answer a question, and if it only takes one paragraph to answer that question, then it seems unnecessary to continue on and on for 8000 words. I’m sure I’ve butchered her explanation, but the point is that Lydia Davis freed me from the assumption that stories had to have a familiar arc and equally familiar length.
My entry: â€œThat the wire service has so few photos of Dave Eggers.â€
Get the rules as well as a table of contents to Eggersâ€™s short fiction for the Guardian here.